Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Off to Northern Ireland

Jani and I leave soon for New Horizon, followed by a few days of rest. Back around August 1st.

Thanks for checking in. God bless.


Four posts below Bono identifies "grace" as his favorite word in the English language. My choice is "friend." "A friend loves at all times" (Proverbs 17:17). This is Jesus.

I cannot listen to "My song is love unknown," five posts below, without being moved to the depths of my being that I have such a Friend. If you have him too, you know what I mean. If you don't have him, you can. Are you willing to be beFriended?

Willingness is all he asks.

Job 42:9

So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did what the Lord had told them, and the Lord accepted Job's prayer. Job 42:9

The Lord told Job's three "friends" that he was burning with anger against them because of what they had implied about him, the Lord, in their moralistic finger-pointing at Job. (As always, it was really about God.) Then he appointed Job their priest, to officiate over their repentance and to pray for them that the Lord would not deal with them according to their folly. And the Lord accepted Job's prayer.

The Lord included even the judgmental tormenters in his mercies. This too is part of "the perfect ending" in the final chapter of Job. It had to be there, for the glory of God's grace to offer hope to all.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Second Saturday?

If we would stop treating Sunday as a second Saturday, one more day to run to Home Depot, one more day for the kids' soccer games, if we would rediscover Sunday as The Lord's Day, focusing on him for one day each week, what would be the immediate impact between today and one year from today?

By one year from today, we will have spent 52 whole days given over to Jesus. Seven and a half weeks of paid vacation with Jesus.

He's a good King. Maybe we should put him first in our weekly schedules.

Oldie of the week

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Grace interrupting Karma

"[Grace is] my favourite word in the lexicon of the English language. It's a word I'm depending on. The universe operates by Karma, we all know that. For every action there's an equal and opposite reaction. There is some atonement built in: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Then enters Grace and turns that upside down. I love it. I'm not talking about people being graceful in their actions but just covering over the cracks. Christ's ministry really was a lot to do with pointing out how everybody is a screw-up in some shape or form, there's no way around it. But then He was to say, well, I am going to deal with those sins for you. I will take on Myself all the consequences of sin. Even if you're not religious I think you'd accept that there are consequences to all the mistakes we make. And so Grace enters the picture to say, I'll take the blame, I'll carry the cross. It is a powerful idea. Grace interrupting Karma."

Bono, in U2 by U2, page 300.

Friday, July 10, 2009

This is my Friend

Let us not dictate to God

"Let us not dictate to God. Many a blessing has been lost by Christians not believing it to be a blessing, because it did not come in the particular shape which they had conceived to be proper and right. To some the divine work is nothing, unless it assumes the form which their prejudice has selected."

Jeremiah Lanphier, Alone With Jesus, page 88.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Romans 12:10

Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10

Here is a competition where we can rightly fight for first place in line: in honoring one another. Not just tolerating one another, but honoring one another.

Every church should be a culture of honor. The gospel is all about honor replacing shame. Every Christian will be forever glorious with the glory of the risen Jesus: "To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thessalonians 2:14). Let's see one another not as we are now but as we will be then. Our future glory makes Romans 12:10 an obvious thing to do.

It is also rare. Romans 12:10 might be the most ignored Scripture in our churches today, which are too often cultures of shaming rather than cultures of honoring.

But who wouldn't want to walk into church this next Sunday morning to a hero's welcome? And why not? We may not be the greatest Christians in the world. But by God's grace we didn't go apostate in a whole week.

That's worth celebrating.

Such an exalted Lamb

"God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We however, says Peter (2 Peter 3:13), are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign. It suffices that through God's glory we have recognized the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day. Do you think such an exalted Lamb paid merely a small price with a meager sacrifice for our sins?"

Martin Luther, writing to Philip Melanchthon, 1 August 1521.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Romans 6:14

You are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:14

If I am not under grace but under law, then the burning issue in my life moment by moment is, Am I sinning?

If I am not under law but under grace, then the burning issue in my life moment by moment is, Am I forgiven?

No one laughs

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one's laughing at God when they're starving or freezing or so very poor

No one laughs at God when the doctor calls after some routine tests
No one's laughing at God when it's gotten real late and their kid's not back from that party yet

No one laughs at God when their airplane starts to uncontrollably shake
No one's laughing at God when they see the one they love hand in hand with someone else and they hope that they're mistaken
No one laughs at God when the cops knock on their door and they say "We've got some bad new, sir"
No one's laughing at God when there's a famine, fire or flood

But God can be funny
At a cocktail party while listening to a good God-themed joke or
Or when the crazies say he hates us and they get so red in the head you think that they're about to choke

God can be funny
When told he'll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus

God can be so hilarious
Ha ha

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one's laughing at God when they've lost all they got and they don't know what for

No one laughs at God on the day they realize that the last sight they'll ever see is a pair of hateful eyes
No one's laughing at God when they're saying their goodbyes

But God can be funny
At a cocktail party while listening to a good God-themed joke or
Or when the crazies say he hates us and they get so red in the head you think that they're about to choke

God can be funny
When told he'll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus
God can be so hilarious

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one's laughing at God when they're starving or freezing or so very poor

No one's laughing at God
We're all laughing with God

HT: Josh Harris.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Jesus Jr.

Our local deity is not Jesus. He goes by the name Jesus. But in reality, our local deity is Jesus Jr.

Our little Jesus is popular because he is useful. He makes us feel better while conveniently fitting into the margins of our busy lives. But he is not terrifying or compelling or thrilling. When we hear the gospel of Jesus Jr., our casual response is “Yeah, that’s what I believe.” Jesus Jr. does not confront us, surprise us, stun us. He looks down on us with a benign, all-approving grin. He tells us how wonderful we really are, how entitled we really are, how wounded we really are, and it feels good.

Jesus Jr. appeals to the flesh. He does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him. He is not able to understand them, much less impart them, because Jesus Jr. is the magnification of Self, the idealization of Self, the absolutization of Self turning around and validating Self, flattering Self, reinforcing Self. Jesus Jr. does not change us, because he is a projection of us.

It is time to tear down Jesus Jr. It is time to rediscover the real Jesus. Still today, even to us, his invitation stands: “Come to me” (Matthew 11:28).

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Reason

Flight from meaning

"The flight from worldviews in the political realm corresponds to the general flight from meaning. In this area, as in personal life, 'objectives' have taken the place of ends, and aims the place of meanings. Only worldviews hold meaning . . . . Objectives, on the other hand, point to nothing; they respond to short-term necessities."

Chantal Delsol, Icarus Fallen, page 111.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

I honor my country

I honor my country on this Independence Day. Why? For starters:

1. The USA grew historically out of spiritual struggle. A longing for Christ in the hearts of the Pilgrim Fathers compelled them to risk all for him. A great beginning.

2. The USA embodies, very imperfectly, a conviction that every one of us has God-given dignity: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights."

3. The USA has been blessed with the First Great Awakening, the Second Great Awakening, the revivals of 1858-59 and other movements of the Holy Spirit, converting many to Christ, growing churches and sending missionaries and money to the ends of the earth.

4. The "greatest generation" of the USA defeated tyranny at great personal cost. When in 1944 my grandfather, stationed in Tehran, got word that his son had died when his B-24 went down, grandpa could not come home to console the family. The war had to be fought. So he stayed put -- only the Lord knows how all-sufficient grace sustained him -- and he did his duty and won.

5. The USA falls so far short, we cannot lift our eyes to heaven for shame. But slapping my country down is not a redemptive response. I pray for my country, that the risen Christ would so pour out his Spirit again that the church will be cleansed and multitudes brought to Christ and our nation renewed. With God, there can be another great beginning.

Enjoying or using?

"There are some things which are to be enjoyed, some which are to be used, and some whose function is both to enjoy and use. Those which are to be enjoyed make us happy; those which are to be used assist us and give us a boost, so to speak, as we press on towards our happiness. . . . But if we choose to enjoy things that are to be used, our advance is impeded and sometimes even diverted, and we are held back, or even put off, from attaining things which are to be enjoyed, because we are hamstrung by our love of lower things."

Augustine, De Doctrina Christiana, 1.7.

Friday, July 3, 2009

So that we may never lack God

"God's goodness is near us. It is not a goodness far away, but God follows us with his goodness in whatever situation we are. He attaches himself to us, he has made himself close, that he might be near us in goodness. He is a father, and everywhere to maintain us. He is a husband, and everywhere to help. He is a friend, and everywhere to comfort and counsel. His love is a near love. He has taken upon himself the closest kinds of relationships, so that we may never lack God and the evidences of his love."

Richard Sibbes, Works, IV:196, paraphrased.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A famous person dies

HT: The Blue Fish.

Jesus, the ark of God

"[John's gospel] speaks in the clearest voice we have that sentence all humankind craves . . . : the Maker of all things loves and wants me. In no other book our culture possesses can we see a clearer graph of that need, that tall enormous radiant arc -- fragile creatures made by the Father's hand, hurled into space, then caught at last by a man in some ways like ourselves, though the ark of God."

Reynolds Price, Three Gospels, page 177.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What is needed

"What is needed is something that cannot be explained in human terms. What is needed is something that is so striking and so signal that it will arrest the attention of the whole world. That is revival.

Now we of ourselves can never do anything like that. We can do a great deal, and we should do all we can. We can preach the truth, we can defend it, we can indulge in our apologetics, we can organize our campaigns, we can try to present a great front to the world. But you know, it does not impress the world. It leaves the world where it was. The need is for something which will be so overwhelming, so divine, so unusual that it will arrest the attention of the world . . . .

'Authenticate thy word. Lord God, let it be known, let it be known beyond a doubt, that we are thy people. Shake us!' I do not ask him to shake the building, but I ask him to shake us. I ask him to do something that is so amazing, so astounding, so divine, that the whole world shall be compelled to look on and say, 'What is this?' as they said on the day of Pentecost."

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Revival, pages 183-185.